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How to create a raised bed border – our five step guide

If, like us, you’re making the most of the warm weather by tending to the garden, you may be thinking about turning your attention to some of the bigger tasks that need a consistent spell of dry weather to complete.

In the next of our ‘five steps’ series, we’re looking at garden borders, and in particular raised bed borders to define your space. This design feature is advantageous for lots of different reasons - beds add height and interest to conventional rectangular gardens. They can also help if you have a disability or struggle with gardening tasks, as you won’t have to kneel or bend too low to tend to the plants.

Keen to get going? We’ve put our heads together to come up with our step by step guide:

1. Plan, plan and plan again

Think about where you want to position the bed within your garden, taking into consideration the amount of sun or shade available throughout the day as this will impact plant growth. Pick your desired bed height: if you’re planning to tend the bed by sitting next to it, ensure it is no more than 70cms high and 50cms deep.

Select the material for your border wall: choices range from bricks, reclaimed stone or concrete slabs to timber posts and railways sleepers. Finally, mark out your chosen area with posts and string, and spray paint along the line to create your border edge.

2. Prepare the ground

Dig out the ground in your bedding area, clearing clumps and stones. For concrete slabs, stones or bricks, dig a foundation trench along your border line up to 15cms deep for strength and stability. The foundation of a non-timber wall (except for vertical posts) should sit on concrete. Wooden walls won’t require concrete however you’ll need to place stakes at regular intervals with 50% of their length buried below the ground. Cut your material to the length and height required, bearing in mind the total depth needed. We stock an extensive range of treated wood and sleepers for a beautiful look that will last. Use pressure-treated timber for durability.

3. Secure the walls

For horizontal timber boards, fix stakes in each corner and at 100cm gaps to support the panels. Place your first panel into position against the stakes, one third of which should sit below the ground. Fix the timber to the posts using non-corrosive nails and check with a spirit level along the entire length to ensure it’s not sloping. Panels can then be butted against each other to build up the height. Railway sleepers should be fixed to stakes with long bolts and will also require interlocking dowels to keep them sitting on top of each other.

4. Add a layer of hardcore

Once the sides have been constructed we would advise lining the inside with a polythene sheet to protect the material from the damp soil. Next, place a layer of stones or hardcore inside your raised bed, up to 8cms in depth. This will aid drainage and help your plants flourish. Cover with a permeable membrane and replace any topsoil that was previously removed, adding fertiliser and compost to improve the quality.

5. Prepare to plant

Once your raised bed has been created, leave the soil to settle and enrich for up to 2 weeks before planting. The soil in your beds will lose moisture more quickly which means the ground will dry out if you forget to water it. Start by planting hardy annuals at first and take time to monitor the soil condition to select the right foliage.

We’re on hand should you need any advice or guidance along the way. Our fully-stocked depot means all the materials you’ll need are right here. We hope you enjoy your garden this summer, on every level!